Arriving at night in Lahore where we will be guided towards the end by a small motorcycle to the premises of the local Hamsaya House (a kind of Secours Catholique), incidentally also a meeting place for bikers. Some eucalyptus trees for a little shade, a large yard for children to play, a kind of office/room with shower and toilet more or less occupied by one or more guards, a tap to do the dishes and catch up a little laundry, it should be a-okay!
Again a ruthless sun the next day, barely veiled by a few clouds. The air is hot (45°C in the shade), but fortunately dry, which makes it all, let’s say more…bearable, because we do not drown in our own sweat (as long as we do not make any effort, of course). And it will be like this during the next 5 days. So we put ourselves in extreme heat mode: stopping the fridge that is not sufficiently ventilated and therefore produces additional heat (sniff, finished the comfort of fresh water bottles), and cooking early in the morning to avoid suffering the heat from cooking plate in addition. We swallow gallons of water and we take a few more showers to support all this, trying not to get too excited for nothing (especially during school hours). The bedtime is inevitably late until the temperature drops a little: by force, everything in the truck is at room temperature, from the partitions to our mattresses.
The children remain tireless, and seem to bear it better than us, happy to have space to ride their bike during the warmest hours.
Well, it’s not all, but we are a little isolated from the lively places! Loïc is motivated to get the bike out, since it can be used to go shopping and scouting. It will be a little laborious as always (disangling, hoist, winding the front wheel…), but at least it starts. Small test to go shopping a few miles away…and that will take twice as long as expected, the (not so small) two wheels having failed twice. Not very reliable… And all this time spent trying to get it out to not be able to use it.
Decidedly, between that, and the confirmation that there will be no artist available (we will have to satisfy ourselves with our consolation pompoms bought in Sheikhupura), the end of our stay has a bit of a bitter taste.
But hey, we are not going to feel down: we celebrate our 6 months on the road, with an incredible amount of landscapes and monuments visited, beautiful encounters, no big mechanical problem for Arty (still touching wood), in which we feel very comfortable (even if it shows its limits in these very hot periods)!
And no way we are going to ignore what can be seen and visited in Lahore!
Members of the bikers club will not fail in their promise and will be there, despite the festival of Eid, for us to enjoy the city.
First outing in tuk tuk (ordered via Uber, not bad) on the main avenues of Lahore, in the middle of cars and mopeds, to go see Salmane and his family. We will spend the afternoon in one of the 5 large houses built on the family grounds, to taste delicious homemade desserts, while brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces will parade to wish a « Eid Mubarak » in their most beautiful clothes. On the return journey, we will stop in a busy street to do some shopping, and feel the rhythm of the city: fruits and vegetables on the stalls/carts aligned, braised chicken…and nearly 3 kgs of rice offered by a very nice merchant!
We will spend one last evening with Hussain, who before his departure for a new guided tour in Hunza, will invite us to dine in a small restaurant in Lahore.
The heat that will not weaken will limit the visits, but we will be able to discover, without losing time, and with the help of Fahreed and Shahid, the old city on the side of the Dehli Gate, and the old hammam Shahi, nearby. Some places clearly suffer from a lack of maintenance, but do not lack charm. The Wazir-Khan Mosque will also be part of the beautiful discoveries of this busy day.
The visit of the Lahore Fort, a huge complex of the Mughal era surrounded by beautiful lawns, will be in full day. We will have the chance to discover parts prohibited to the public, always in the company of our very special guides.
The soles of our feet will almost be burned on the ocher slabs of the huge adjacent Badshahi mosque, with its corridors full of worshipers coming to pray or picnic on the ground (in the shade of course).
And finally, dinner at the restaurant in the company of Mouqaram and his 3 daughters, before a last meeting with a good part of the bikers who came to say goodbye, hands filled with surprise gifts: framed picture, nesting box for the birds to place in a tree, seeds of trees to plant on the road, mugs, … Wow!
After this last long day, bikes and bicycles stored, the preparation of the truck will be done on the same morning as the crossing of the border. No time to go in search of a water point to refill our reserves, nor to go around the cheapest stations for full diesel. Things are done in a bit of a rush this time…
Direction the famous Wagah Border! It is far from what we imagined for a road that is only 40 km from the border post with neighboring India: channel full of swimmers, roadside full of stalls of fruits and vegetables, and even an entertainment center well animated on this Sunday.
It is only 5 km before the border that the population density seems to be decreasing and the vehicles are becoming scarce. We finish our last rupees by buying some fruits and adding extra fuel.
That’s it, the red brick buildings, imposing, appear. The formalities on the Pakistani side will take only an hour (there really is no crowd), we then move to a first grid that opens on the green and white stands, colours of the Pakistani flag. A small exchange with the soldiers who will probably be at the ceremony in a few hours, while the gate on the stands on the Indian side opens in turn. Allah hafeiz Pakistan, Namasté India!